Being a lawyer is already a task in itself. There is an obvious a wealth of time handling a hectic work schedules and competing with a significant number of contemporaries who work equally hard. Add to that the need to keep one's legal cerebrum receptive enough to understand behavioral patterns of all the individuals involving any particular legal matter, since that is often a the key to empathizing what clients are dealing with.
The focus, however, in the initial as well as subsequent stages, for most lawyers today is twofold - while on one front, they have to deal with the aforementioned aspects; on the other front, there is a need to portray their superiority over others, by explaining to the potential customers, how their services differ from those offered by competing attorneys. In other words, lawyer web marketing has gained a pivotal position in aiding an attorney to build an impressive client portfolio.
Marketing has always been a highly dynamic process - continuously changing consumer perspectives and off course, a vast category of products and services to choose from. Such an environment has ensured that conveying the right message to one's potential customers through healthy marketing practices is highly essential. Interestingly, marketing over the Internet, is an even more dynamic and volatile process, owing to the changes made by the world's leading search engine: Google. The practices of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), developed to steer Google and other search engines into recognizing a website as credible, need to be professionally executed.
One of the recent changes made by Google to its search results display was the inclusion of personalized results - which may include a local influence. Moreover, alterations were made by the search engine to its Google Places results, which has a most definite local impact on lawyer web marketing.
The infamous Google Panda update in February 2011 further reinforced the priority that Google has always been known to place on quality written and well-structured content. Now, just a year later, in 2012, the news is that the company plans to place importance on a relatively technical measure in order to aid its spiders to reach to the various dimensions of content put up on a website - the search engine will now benchmark whether or not html tags which markup web pages (better known as schemas) have been included. Basically, these tags have always been in use by Google, Yahoo and Bing, while scanning web pages in response to user queries, in order to display the most accurate results.
Schemas are known to substantially aid DBMS (Database Management Systems.) When it comes to evaluating the current status of lawyer websites, data is meticulously structured in most cases, however, the process of retrieving the date from databases, in response to user search queries, and converting it to HTML, can be cumbersome. By aiding Google spiders in retrieving information more conveniently, through the usage of schemas, the benefits to an attorney's websites in terms of search engine rankings, will only be amplified. This being a technical dimension nonetheless, would be best if dealt with, by a webmaster or related technical specialist.
Care should be still taken to ensure that the vast number of other parameters taken into consideration by Google in presenting search results, will continue to hold importance. Some of them being
It is indeed true that such periodic small changes made by Google will alter the best practices of lawyer web marketing in the years to come. However, partnering with an authentic company, with a good track record, and one which offers a dedicated lawyer marketing program, will certainly ensure that an attorney reaps the benefits of uphill search engine rankings.continue...
In Part I of Local SEO for Lawyers we discussed the importance of well-optimized content on the website. In Part II, we move into the most significant contributor to higher search engine rankings: off-site link popularity.
Generating links to your website is ever critical for local SEO, especially if your geographic target and/or practice area is highly competitive. Links pointing to your site displays credibility and trust, which is something search engines highly value while determining rankings.
The process of link building must respect two important factors: how the links are build (such as the link name or anchor text is used) as well as where the link are built (on related, high authority websites or unrelated, low authority websites?)
When building links to your site, it is very important to understand the concept of link names or anchor text. The anchor text is the clickable words that represent a link. For example, read this Wikipedia page for more information on anchor text (note, the word "anchor text" is the anchor text of that link.)
Search engine spiders crawl and interpret the content and links of a webpage. Once a spider hits a link, it reads the anchor text of the link and then takes the link to its respective URL destination. In short, the spider knows whether or not the anchor text of the link (and the surrounding content of that link) is related to link's URL destination.
If a link has the anchor text "Chicago business lawyer," the page being linked to is most likely about (and most likely optimized for) a business lawyer in Chicago. Assuming that is the case, the spider will credit the page with not only greater search engine value, but also greater keyword relevancy to phrase "Chicago business lawyer."
In essence, the best practices of building links is using keyword targeted anchor text. It is also a good approach to mix up your anchor text by using partial linking strategies. An example of partial linking would be to use only select keyword targets as the anchor text, such as "Chicago lawyer" or "business law firm."
Where a link is built determines how powerful the link is. Google offers a measure of "webpage authority" called PageRank (PR.) Webpages have a PageRanks ranging from PR0 to PR10, however even a PR5-6 is considered high for link building purposes.
Ideally, you want to build links from sources that have high PageRanks, although that is easier said than done. Find high PR linking sources has become a hot commodity for local SEO. So much so that the business of buying and selling high PR link placements has become major sub-industry to SEO.
There are a number of resources available to build links from a variety of sources. For local SEO, using a blend of locally-focused directories and information sites can be a simple source to establish a few links. In addition, we recommend:
You can also take advantage of other attorney websites in which you may be affiliated or friends with. In many cases, the most powerful PR links come from friends with a high PR websites who are willing to lend you an optimized link. Just be sure to let them know the specific anchor text and URL destination to get the greatest benefit.
That completes our series on Local SEO for Lawyers. We hope that these points of both on-site and off-site SEO have enlightened you, and that you can now hone in on your local SEO efforts independently. To learn more check out this very insightful 2013 local SEO guide created by one of our writers of the Law Firm Web Marketing blog.continue...
After Google's Penguin update, the processes of building backlinks for SEO have become even more intricate. Expansive, membership-based blog networks and paid link programs are the primary target, and many of these resources are commonly used by legal professionals.
So if your law firm website has been over-optimized with too much exact phrase match link building (that is, too many backlinks with the anchor text 'Dallas business lawyers' or 'business lawyers in Dallas') and not enough natural links (links using your domain name), we have outlined a list of tips and techniques to help remedy your case.
In essence, if your site has too many over-optimized backlinks, then you need to balance the ratio of optimized and un-optimized backlinks. To help you do this, we have provided 10 techniques to overcome over-optimization with natural, post-penguin backlink building.
1. Do comprehensive research: Know just how bad your ratio of optimized and un-optimized backlinks really is. We suggest doing a backlink scan to get a lay of the land. These insights will tell you just how over-optimized your legal site really is, and how much natural backlink building you'll need to do to balance the ratio.
2. Do surveys: An industry-specific survey or research that is posted on your website will help you acquire long-term backlinks. Surveys are also important in that they help you in product development since you will know what your customers/clients want. You should also have a page dedicated to the survey's results. This can be a valuable content that people will want to naturally link to, and thus offers an effective technique for website optimization.
3. Target related websites: Do a simple Google search or use software like Open Site Explorer to determine the links your competitors are gaining backlinks from. This is particularly helpful if you target successful competitors. Next, reach out to the people linking with your competitor’s site and trying earning those links for your own legal site.
4. Generate video content: Come up with great video content that promotes your legal practice and your brand. Posting these videos on YouTube, Vimeo or other 3rd party sites can automatically earn you a backlink, in addition to the marketing value videos offer.
5. Try running a contest: Running a contest or competition always helps to gain links back to your site. People who like the competition will share backlinks with friends, colleagues or relatives. This is often most effective when combined with social media.
6. Implement social media badges: Adding social badges to your website is great way to establish a following on your website. These social cues can indirectly contribute to more links via credibility and promoting greater online awareness of your website.
7. Post on forums in your niche: Search for forums in your niche and make several posts. If people have questions, answer their questions and include links to your website, indicating that they can find the products/services they are looking for there. Be sure to do this responsibly and ethically.
8. Join the relevant trade associations: Consider attending trade shows and conferences to increase your sales. When you attend such trade shows and conferences, always ensure you take part as a member of a trade association. This will help to make sure that your company website gets listed on the website of the trade association.
9. Give freebies to bloggers: Guest blogging from renowned bloggers will help with your link building campaigns. However, note that well-established guest bloggers will not participate in your blog for nothing. Give the bloggers overstocked products or other freebies that will not hurt your profit margins.
10. Give interviews: You could find industry leaders and interview them. People who know such industry leaders will link back to the content of the interview.
Other important techniques are finding legal web directories to list your site and URL. Other powerful directories include the BBB (better business bureau), DMOZ directory, and Yahoo! local. These offer some of the most natural sources of backlinks. Link wisely.continue...
Often times, some of the most insightful clues are right in front of our eyes. When doing keyword research, one source of insight is Google Instant.
However we're not referring to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. We are simply suggesting using Google search.
When you start to type a phrase in Google search, its Google Instant feature begins suggesting related search queries. These suggestions are based on popular keyword searches and may very well reflect long-tail search trends.
The practice of lawyer SEO is unique in that it's sometimes difficult to pinpoint specific, long-tail keywords when doing research. That is, the detailed search phrases that people search when trying to find a particular attorney, legal service, or law firm, in particular area of law.
Using the search suggestions from Google Instant is great way determine these phrases.
A tip while doing this SEO keyword research technique is to try starting your search with different variations. In the image above, you can see the keyword search started with 'boston lawyer business...' We can immediately tell that the 'small business lawyers' and 'business litigation lawyers' are two popular searches. If start our search query differently, we can gather even more insights.
By modifying our starting search phrase to be 'boston commercial law firm...,' we learn that 'business' and 'corporate' are both very related to 'commercial' areas of law. With this information, we might optimize a page for both 'business law' and 'commercial law' because these terms are virtually synonymous.
We also discover from the above search that 'commercial real estate law' is popular subject in the Boston area. If the law firm specializes in commercial real estate law, then we may include this keyword in our SEO efforts.
This simple keyword research tip using Google Instant can be applied to almost any SEO situation. The trick is keep plugging in multiple phrases to start. Try flipping your search using 'attorneys,' 'lawyers,' 'law firms,' as well as plural-singular variations and synonyms (like 'commercial' and 'business')
The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is also a much needed resources for SEO Keyword Research, however sometimes the long-tail keyword insights are limited. We still suggest using this tool as a starting ground. The latter tips is to help you refine your research.
If you're interested in learning some great techniques to using the Google Keyword Tool, check out this video on SEO Keyword Research. This video will help you learn some best practices tips to doing SEO keyword research.
To get the best results, use a combination of tools and resource while undergoing keyword research. We hope you starting using and appreciate the insights of using Google Instant for Keyword Research.continue...
The Internet has made it possible for smaller law firms and legal practices to compete with larger entities. Thanks to Internet marketing channels like search engine optimization (SEO), Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising, and Google Maps, attaining the exposure and visibility to ensure your practice is found is much more efficient.
One channel that has proven to be extremely cost-efficient for local firms is Google Maps. With Google Maps, you are able to indicate where your office is located as well as provide information about your legal practice. However what's most attractive about Google Maps is that your company's listing is a completely free way to advertise.
To ensure your law firm is listed on Google Maps for your office location and practice area, below is a step-by-step guide to getting there.
1) The first step is submitting your listing to Google, primarily the name, address and phone number of your business. To do this, create listing on Google+ (formally known as Google Places). If you already have a listing, choose to 'manage your page.' It is important that all information you submit is aligned with the info that is listed in your website. Any inconsistency can lead to diminished credibility and minimal exposure as a result.
2) The next step is choose the most relevant categories that reflects your primary keyword targets for SEO or PPC. Ensure that your categories are specific to your niche. You can pick up to five categories. It is often best if each category you choose is somewhat related to one another.
3) Write a description of your business. Indicate the core legal services and practice areas that your firm covers. It is also doesn't hurt to include some keywords in your description, so long as you use the respectively.
4) Next, upload a logo or image representing your business. You could use a picture of your store, office, or restaurant. It is often times best that you take the time to optimize your images for the maximum advertising benefit.
5) If you have a special offer or coupon you want to advertise, Google will let you implement this free of charge.
6) Next, visit www.google.com/local and do a search with your business name as a way of verifying if your business is already listed with an advert.
7) Visit www.google.com/local again and click on the Add/Edit Your Business tab. This is located at the bottom left side of the Web page. This will allow you to add your business to Google marketing.
8) You will get a step-by-step guide by Google. The process is straightforward. All that is required is for you to input the information as described above.
9) Google will contact you and ask you to verify your submission. Verification is done via mail or phone. You will be listed in a few weeks. You can update any information if you wish to.
As you progress through this process, you will find the instructions and content fields to be fairly obvious. In essence, the goal is to ensure that your law firm is properly listed for its location as well as its primary keywords, or practice areas.
The verification process may take some time, but be patient. The free advertising exposure is well worth the wait.continue...
For local legal practice, it is important that you optimize your law firm's website for greater online exposure, especially for the search engines.
Local search engine optimization (SEO) involves the optimization of a website, or a specific page, using both practice area keywords as well as geographic references.
The actual optimization is ensuring the combination of geo-target (e.g. "Dallas") and practice area (e.g. "Criminal Defense") are mentioned on the page, preferably in close proximity (e.g. "Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer").
However there's a lot more to local lawyer SEO than just keyword optimizing pages of a website. Now, with more social integration (via Google+) and other contributing factors that occur off the sites, a local SEO strategy must consider a number of different elements.
To help you better optimize your law firm's website for local SEO, below we offer seven strategies for local lawyer SEO.
1) Local Search Submissions: Google, Bing, and Yahoo! have free local business listings. All you are required to do is fill out info about your business and to then verify your listing. With Bing, you can have an aerial map that allows you to pinpoint the exact location of your business. Listing allows your business to be visible in local searches using the chosen keyword. You could also submit your site to Yelp or CitySearch. Proper categorizing is necessary for a successful listing. Some listings allow you to even list the payment method/s accepted and your email.
2) Google AdWords: Although AdWords is designed more for PPC advertisers, you can earn a lot of valuable insights with data provided by the platform. Here you can track the search queries and visitor behaviors that impact your website. As a result, you can capture a wealth of information to hone in on your local SEO efforts.
3) Reviews: You could ask for reviews from customers. Customer testimonials are important in that they help to convince skeptical clients to buy whatever you are selling. You will be surprised just how many of your current customers are willing to provide testimonials if you ask. You can also have customer reviews on some local websites like Google Local and Yelp.
4) Listing on Community Sites: You could list your website on community websites like the website of your local Chamber of Commerce. This not only helps you list your website locally, but it also helps you get links from a credible website. Link building is one of the most effective White Hat SEO techniques. Another option is listing with your trade organization, preferably a local organization or the local branch of the organization. Yet another option is listing on a local business directory.
5) Localize Keywords: Use localized keywords that are bit variant from the norm. As an example, include such keywords like "NYC," in addition to "New York." You'd be surprised at how many people use modified geo-local references in their search queries.
6) Focus on the Competition: Work on your keywords by using keyword research tools to come up with the most effective ones and do research on what successful competitors are doing so that you can borrow from their strategies.
7) Twitter: Using Twitter for your lawyer SEO increases the chances of your business, brand, or a particular product going viral. Creating a Twitter account is easy and free. Make regular updates and attract as many followers as possible. Offer meaningful information on your updates.
To learn more about local SEO for your law firm, check out this local SEO guide with great insights for all types of campaigns.continue...
Google Maps recently implemented a new feature that pinpoints the current location of your computer.
When I first checked out this new feature, Google Maps had my current location set in Michigan. They were correct; however I could further dial in my location as specific as my street address.
According to Google this feature, known as Automatic Location will help make search more relevant for users. Google states that:
Google Maps will always provide results that we believe are most relevant to your search. Location is one of a number of factors that we use to provide relevant results. For example, if you search for a restaurant chain, you may want to find a branch near you. Now, your initial Maps view will be set to your current location, so that you can get easy access to local results.
In short, Google will automatically pinpoint a user's location based on their IP address. In turn, the search engine results will be customized results based on the user's location.
So what does this mean for local SEO's and small business marketers? It's an obvious sign that Google is further pursuing local search as the best means to provide quality search results. More importantly, the social media network Google+ is directly tied to locally customized search results. Google+ Local pages, which have replaced the Google Places results, are very important for local SEO.
If your law firm has yet to claim and optimize a Google+ Local page, now is the time. In the near future, these pages may have just as much marketing potential as your firm's website.continue...
Google Plus (or "Google+") is now one of the most popular social networking sites. This is one of the mostly because it provides more than what the other social networking sites have to offer.
Most individuals may see Google Plus as an extension of Twitter and Facebook. However, what more people are beginning to realize is that this emerging social platforms has features and benefits that are far more advantageous, especially for businesses and brands.
In addition to interacting with other legal professionals and individual users, Google Plus activity can be displayed in Google search on relevant keyword queries. This means that having a Google Plus presence can help your local website marketing strategy.
Like Twitter and Facebook, the initial goal of your Google Plus marketing efforts is to build a strong following. Below we share a number of tips and strategies to grow your law firm's Google Plus following.
1. Share Content: Sharing content is perhaps the most powerful way to attract new followers. Focusing on sharing content that interesting and very relevant to your target market. Additionally (and also like Twitter,) take advantage of using hashtags in front of relevant keywords that describe your posts. This can help your post become found when other users explore related topics.
2. Interact: After you have created a nice looking profile page that signifies your law firm's brand, take the time to explore Google Plus and some of the relevant content that's out there. Leave comments or "+1's" on the posts and updates of other businesses and individuals. This generates awareness of your brand and could lead to more traffic coming to your profile page (and more followers.)
3. Add Google Plus Widgets to Your Web Properties: Be sure to add the Google Plus widget on your blog and the webpages of your site. We suggest including both the "+1" button and the "G+" widget that takes people to your Google Plus page. In addition to help increasing your followers, this can also helps with local SEO by sending social signals (authority) on your website. Consider adding a link in the biography of your profile.
4. Actively Find Followers: Search for people in your legal profession or practice area. Having such people in your circles is advantageous because it may further lead to the acquisition of more relevant followers. Use the “Find People” feature on the Google Plus account's circles tab. Or you could try "exploring" related content and referencing the sources as potential followers.
5. Link to Your Profile: A good alternative to building links solely to your website (for SEO,) build links to your Google Plus profile page. This will help steer traffic to your profile while increasing its overall search engine authority.
Stay diligent with your social media marketing efforts via Google Plus. Because Google is focusing on a more local orientation with both its search results and social network, the advantages for your law firm are plentiful. Reach out, share content, and make your presence known!continue...
Local citations can work really well in improving your law firm's online visibility. Citations are simply mentions or references of your firm's name and address on other websites.
If you have many (and accurate) citations, Google will view your law firm as an established, credible online brand. As a result, your Google local search ranking can significantly increase.
The trick is to build quality citations on authoritative and locally-relevany sources. Nowadays, there are many citation sources that offer little to no SEO value because they come from spammy websites.
By finding the right citation sources, you can enhance the overall local SEO performance for your firm. In order for you to find out if a citation source is legit, you need to ask yourself the following questions.
It is important to find out if that citation source has been used by other people within your industry. Find out if a good number of your competitors are using the same citation source. If this is the case, then it is likely a high quality citation source. Just visit the website then key in some of your competitor’s names.
You have to make sure that the website has a reliable PageRank and domain. There are a number of tools which you can download online like the PR plugin. This will help you to track the local citation source and find out if it has a good track record with Google.
The other way to note a website’s popularity is by checking whether it is usually mentioned in articles that talk about local citation sources. You are likely to come across a number of articles which give advice on local citation sources online. Find out if the source you are considering is mentioned in any of these articles across the web. This will give you more confidence in the source if it is actually recommended by other experts.
Considering this is important because most spammy sources need very little information regarding your business. Reliable citation sources for SEO will always want to include as much information regarding your business as possible. They do this because they want to enhance the relevancy of all their listings and also enhance the chances of Google crawling to your site.
It is important to focus on only local citations so that you can find your business in the relevant listing. Relevance is important as it will help you to generate leads and enhance your revenue with the help of the listings. Appearing in a UK listing if your site is based in America can be really unfortunate so make sure that the citation source is local.
There are so many local citation sources that you can get involved in. Some of the most popular ones include Yelp, City Search, Insider Pages and Foursquare. For more, check out this article on local SEO and directory resources from OIC Group.continue...
If you truly want to make a success of marketing your legal practice online, you must get a good grasp of content marketing. Content marketing can be defined as the creation and distribution of valuable but free information online to build trust among prospects and turn them into customers.
The kind of information you share must be closely related to the kind of legal services you intend to get paid for. The focus of your content marketing campaign must be to educate people so that they can trust you so much that they find it easy to do business with you. Instead of bombarding your target audience with sales pitches, you simply provide genuinely valuable information that helps them to make more intelligent decisions.
Effective content marketing is the backbone of an effective SEO marketing strategy. Over the years, Google has repeatedly updated its search engine algorithm to ensure that users get the most informative web pages returned after each search. So if you want to take full advantage of the targeted traffic that most popular search engines offer, you need to provide valuable content. For example, blogs that are frequently updated with fresh and high quality posts easily get high page ranks and tons of interested readers on a daily basis.
Furthermore, content marketing compliments social media marketing by giving people something valuable to chat about. A savvy content marketer can easily take advantage of a popular issue in the news, which will also be of interest to his or her target audience, and provide sound legal advice that will help people to learn more about their constitutional rights. Such information can easily be used to start building credibility as an expert on such legal matters.
So how can law firms actually make the most of the opportunities offered by content marketing? Here are a few tips that can be used to develop an effective strategy.
To start with, you should carefully define your major goals for engaging in content marketing. Determine who your main target audience is. Do a little research to discover what their most urgent and important needs are. Find out the kind of information they are searching for through online keyword research tools provided by Google and Yahoo. Check out forums where members of your target audience hang out and carefully study the questions they ask. This will give you a lot of insight into the kind of content your target audience will really appreciate and share with others.
After your goal setting and initial research, you should use the information you have obtained to create and maintain a highly informative blog that provides high quality articles on issues and problems that your audience is having in your area of legal practice. This will attract trust and loyalty from your readers and lead to several requests for your professional services.
The legal profession has a lot of technical language and jargon that most lay people are not familiar with. You could easily develop a good rapport with your target audience by providing a set of frequently asked questions FAQ articles on your website. These FAQ articles should help your audience have a better understanding of common legal terms related to your practice. Then provide links to these articles in your blog posts.
One of the best ways to get high quality links to your blog and other content is to be an active guest blogger. Post a few high quality articles in a legal blogs that already have a high PageRank and you will be able to drive a high volume of traffic to your own blog through backlinks. This is an excellent content marketing strategy that also helps to boost the page rank of your blog on Google and other search engines.continue...